The structure of optimism: "Controllability affects the extent to which efficacy beliefs shape outcome expectancies"

Diemo Urbig, Erik Monsen

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26 Citations (Scopus)
253 Downloads (Pure)


In this article we theoretically develop and empirically test an integrative conceptual framework linking dispositional optimism as general outcome expectancy to general efficacy beliefs about internal (self) and external (instrumental social support and chance) factors as well as to general control beliefs (locus-of-control). Bandura (1997, Self-efficacy. The exercise of control (p. 23). New York: Freeman), quoted in title, suggests – at a context-specific level – that controllability moderates the impact of self-efficacy on outcome expectancies and we hypothesize that – at a general level – this also applies to dispositional optimism. We further hypothesize that locus of control moderates the impact of external-efficacy beliefs, but in the opposite direction as self-efficacy. Our survey data of 224 university students provides support for the moderation of self-efficacy and chance-efficacy. Our new conceptualization contributes to clarifying relationships between self- and external-efficacy beliefs, control beliefs, and optimism; and helps to explain why equally optimistic individuals cope very differently with adverse situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854–867
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date16 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2012


  • dispositional optimism
  • efficacy
  • locus of control
  • expectations
  • cognition
  • knowledge
  • uncertainty
  • information
  • beliefs
  • speculations


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